In his "Tech Tuesday" column at FoxNews.com, Eric Griffith points out the good, the bad and the ugly of the four dominant operating systems in today's market -- with the average user in mind. He reviews Mac OS 10.5.1 (Leopard), Windows Vista, Windows XP SP2, and Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) in eight categories.
In each category (price, installation, interface, bundled software, third-party software, hardware/drivers, security and networking), he rates each OS on a scale from one star to five stars, with five being the best. For example, here's a snippet of his analysis on price:
Ubuntu, in all its forms (such as Xubuntu and Kubuntu, with their differing desktop designs), is open source, and that means it's free for anyone to download and install...The current version of Mac Leopard costs $129 direct, or $109.99 at Amazon, where you can also still buy 10.4.5, aka Tiger, as well. With Apple, users pay every year (or so) to get a major upgrade... Microsoft provides its major Windows upgrades, called Service Packs, free of charge. Paying more for Mac OS upgrades is a bit galling when you've already paid a premium for the hardware.
Ubuntu comes out on top with 4.5 stars, and Windows Vista brings up the rear with only two stars.
And on security, Griffith concludes:
The bottom-line question is: Which OS keeps you safest? Printer analyst M. David Stone puts it this way: "Let's say I came up with a new OS tomorrow with no security features. If hardly anyone adopted it, those who did would be almost completely safe from attack. No one would bother attacking it."
That's why, he says, Mac OS 10.5.1 and Ubuntu tie for the top spot.
After going through pros and cons for each OS in all eight categories, he tallies the score, and determines that Mac OS 10.5.1 (Leopard) is the best choice for the hypothetical average user -- whose prime concern is finding "something secure, easy to install and easy to master."